Off-campus Eastern Washington University users: To download EWU Only theses, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your EWU NetID and password.

Non-EWU users: Please talk to your local librarian about requesting this thesis through Interlibrary loan.

Date of Award

Winter 1978


Access perpetually restricted to EWU users with an active EWU NetID

Document Type

Thesis: EWU Only

Degree Name

Master of Public Administration (MPA)


Master of Public Administration


The hypothesis in this thesis is that the budget document of police organizations will serve to define their role and function in society. Although the argument centers around municipal police organizations the principles will apply to any level of police activity. The argument begins by pointing out the monetary orientation of the American economy and the absolute necessity for resources in order for an organization to function in any effective manner. Resources available to government organizations are limited since the taxpayer can only afford a limited number of services. These limited resources are reflected in the municipal police budget and become a constraint on the police agency. Since the police must be held accountable for the funds made available to them in the budget it is obvious that a prioritization of activities must be established. The budget takes into account the priority of activities with the result that only the most important functions are funded. In order to prove the validity of the hypothesis it is imperative that the argument analyzes the various budget processes available to police organizations. Numerous styles of budgeting are available to police organizations today which includes (but is not limited to) (1) line-item budgeting, (2) performance budgeting, (3) zero-base budgeting, and (4) program budgeting. The characteristics of each of these four budget styles is presented to show how the activities of the police agency will be specifically stated in all of them. The police agency is not simply given a check by the taxpayers to do with as they please. There are explicit requirements as to activities performed and goals to be achieved. The police do not in any sense operate within a vacuum, but on the contrary are involved in a very dynamic, demanding environment. To further prove the hypothesis it is argued that public administrators responsible for police functions will utilize the budget as a primary tool for communicating to the police what they must perform and achieve. The four public administrators or groups analyzed are (1)the police chief, (2) the municipal chief executive, (3) the legislature, and (4) the federal government. These individuals and groups are responsible for administering and funding the police agency. These people will likewise be held accountable to their constituents for the manner in which they provide public funds to the police agency. Therefore, requirements as to the use of the funds and tasks that must be performed will be communicated to the police in their annual budget. The primary method of research was a review of the literature as it applied to municipal and police budgeting. Even though some of the literature did not specifically orient itself to police budgeting, application was nonetheless made and conclusions drawn. Another important method of study involved the author's experience in working for a police organization. Many examples and concepts were drawn from the agency with which the author is employed. The conclusion to be drawn is that the importance of limited resources to police organizations implies that a budget system must be adhered to. Incorporated into the budget document will be regulations relating to the use of public funds. The result is that the role and functions of the police organization will be clearly defined by the budget process.